Student govt. at Harvard votes to condemn student newspaper for asking ICE for a comment

Student govt. at Harvard votes to condemn student newspaper for asking ICE for a comment

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On Sunday, the Harvard student government voted to condemn the school's daily student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, after the newspaper asked the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a comment about an anti-ICE protest in September on the school campus.

The story: Over 900 people and several student groups like the Harvard College Democrats have signed a petition calling for the newspaper to "apologize for the harm they inflicted on the undocumented community," "stop calling ICE," and "declare their commitment to protecting undocumented students on campus."

“In this political climate, a request for comment is virtually the same as tipping them off, regardless of how they are contacted,” the petition stated. On Sept. 12, students gathered for a protest organized by the student group Act on a Dream in Harvard Yard to call for the termination of ICE, according to Fox News.

After the event, the Harvard Crimson requested a comment from ICE about the protest for an upcoming story. The newspaper defended its decision to seek comment from ICE, saying in a note to readers that it follows “a commonly accepted set of journalistic standards.”

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“Foremost among those standards is the belief that every party named in a story has a right to comment or contest criticism leveled against them,” the paper said.

“At stake here, we believe, is one of the core tenets that defines America's free and independent press: the right — and prerogative — of reporters to contact any person or organization relevant to a story to seek that entity's comment and view of what transpired,” it added.

"A world where news outlets categorically refuse to contact certain kinds of sources — a world where news outlets let third-party groups dictate the terms of their coverage — is a less informed, less accurate, and ultimately less democratic world,” The Crimson said.

Harvard College Democrats, however, said on Twitter they are “not talking to @thecrimson until they stop calling ICE on students.”

The Harvard Undergraduate Council called on the student-run newspaper to "revisit their policies and make adequate changes."

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"We condemn actions or policies that endanger undocumented and immigrant students on campus, and we encourage the Harvard Crimson to revisit their policies and make adequate changes. It is imperative for the Harvard Crimson to commit to journalistic practices that do not put students at risk," the council wrote in a post on Facebook.

The Crimson president Kristine Guillaume also defended the paper's decision, saying in a statement:

“Fundamental journalistic values obligate The Crimson to allow all subjects of a story a chance to comment. This policy demonstrates a commitment to ensuring that the individuals and institutions we write about have an opportunity to respond to criticisms in order to ensure a fair and unbiased story.”

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